Al Chet: Sins in the Marketplace

Front Cover
Jason Aronson, 1996 - 217 pages
The viduy, or confessional, is the central prayer on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Recited both silently and by the cantor, the viduy is a confession of sins committed both individually and as a community. Each line of the prayer begins with al chet shechatanu, "for the sin which we have committed." A major theme of the viduy is social immorality and unethical behavior. In Al Chet: Sins in the Marketplace, Meir Tamari, a renowned authority in the field of Jewish business ethics, explores the viduy specifically as it relates to the business world.
Within Judaism's rich body of texts, there are discussions relevant to contemporary business issues, including insider trading, limited liability corporations, false advertising, and the pirating of computer software. Using the viduy as a guide, Tamari explores the sins resulting from business activities using textual material culled from the Bible, the Mishnah, and the Talmud, the homiletic literature and moralistic texts, as well as sayings and stories from some of the greatest rabbis in Jewish history.
Following a discussion of teshuvah, "repentance," and the necessity of confession to achieve it, thirteen specific sins are explained. Some, such as "bribery" and "usury and interest," are obvious in their relation to business ethics. Others are less clear but perhaps more important, such as "brazen arrogance," which can lead to the browbeating of competitors, employees, and debtors, and "callousness," which can result in ignoring the needs of the disadvantaged or the harassment of employees. Subconscious drives such as gluttony, envy, and jealousy are also explored as they relate to business. For example, the blurring of needs and wants that results in gluttony also plays a role in the search for a constantly rising standard of living.
To conclude, the author presents Judaism's ways of avoiding and atoning for these sins, so that "you shall do what is right and good in the sight of the Lord" (Deuteronomy 6:18). Psalm 15, which presents eleven cardinal principles of Jewish observance, all concerning the earning and spending of money, forms a striking epilogue to this thought-provoking volume.
Whether studied in anticipation of Yom Kippur or used as a guide for personal and professional life, the insights revealed here will be invaluable to all entrepreneurs, creditors, debtors, employers, employees, producers, and consumers.
 

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Contents

TESHUVAH
1
The Principles of Repentance
3
Forgiveness
4
IN THE MARKETPLACE IN THE WORKPLACE AND IN THE HOME
13
Needs and Wants
15
Positive and Negative CommandmentsMitzvot Asei and Mitzvot Lo Taaseh
18
Consequences of Immortality and Sin in Matters between Man and Man
25
VIDUYCONFESSION
31
What Is Kiddush Hashem?
108
Postscript
110
BYETZER HARABY THE ABILITY TO DO EVIL
113
Faith as the Antidote for the Financial Yetzer Hara
116
Educating the Yetzer Hara
119
Postscript
121
BYODIM UVLO YODIMWITTINGLY AND UNWITTINGLY
123
The Corporate Veil
124

Chillul Hashem
36
BIMUTZ HALEVBY ACTING CALLOUSLY
37
Doing Charity
42
Alternative Forms of Imutz Halev
45
Obstructing Kindness to NonJews
47
Postscript
50
BGILUY UVASETERIN PUBLIC AND IN SECRET
53
In Secret
54
Weights and Measures
56
Price GougingMafkia Mechirim
61
Theft
62
Postscript
65
BDAAT UVMIRMAKNOWINGLY AND DECEITFULLY
67
FRAUD
68
Geneivat DaatMisleading People
73
Theft of Intellectual PropertyCopyrights Tapes Cassettes
77
Postscript
79
BHONAAT REAHBY OPPRESSING A FELLOWMAN
81
Onaat Devarim
85
EmployerEmployee Relations
87
Withholding Payment
90
Postscript
91
BCHOZEK YADBY VIOLENCE
93
Withholding Wages
94
Loans and Trust Funds
96
Coercive Trading
99
Aiding and Abetting
100
Postscript
102
CHILLUL HASHEMBY DESECRATING GODS NAME
103
What Is Chillul Hashem?
105
Socially Acceptable Immorality
125
Negligence and Carelessness
128
Postscript
132
BKHAPAT SHOCHADBY BRIBERY
133
The Judiciary
134
Bribery
137
Beyond the Judiciary
139
Postscript
142
BKHACHASH UVKHAZAVBY DENIAL AND BY FALSEHOOD
143
Lifnei Iver
148
Postscript
150
BMASA UVMATANIN COMMERCE AND IN BUSINESS
151
Limited Liability Corporation
152
Competition Prices Profits
154
Dina DeMalkhuta
156
Preempting in Negotiating
159
Postscript
161
BMAACHAL UVMISHTEHIN EATING AND DRINKING
163
Lo TachmodLo TitavehYou Shall Not Covet and You Shall Not Desire
167
Modesty in Consumption
171
Postscript
175
BNESHECH UVMARBITBY INTEREST AND USURY
177
IssurRibitThe Injunction against Taking Interest
182
Postscript
191
AND YOU SHALL DO THAT WHICH IS RIGHT AND GOOD IN THE EYES OF GOD
193
Bitzdiat ReahEnsnaring People
194
Epilogue
209
Index
211
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About the author (1996)

Meir Tamari is director of the Centre for Business Ethics at the Jerusalem College of Technology, consultant to the Jewish Association for Business Ethics in the United Kingdom, and dean of the American Association for Jewish Business Ethics. After making aliyah from South Africa to a religious kibbutz in 1950, he served in the Bank of Israel in corporate research from 1960 to 1990, achieving the position of chief economist, office of the governor. Dr. Tamari is the author of numerous academic and rabbinic articles and books, including The Challenge of Wealth: A Jewish Perspective on Earning and Spending Money. He writes about business ethics, small firms, risk evaluation, and entrepreneurship and is publisher of the Business Ethics Newsletter in Jerusalem. The pioneer of a special course on Jewish ethics and economics at Bar-Ilan University, Dr. Tamari has lectured internationally and has served as consultant to various governmental bodies in the United Kingdom, France, and the United States.

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